Real Piano Players here?

Yeah, im wondering - again :slight_smile:

My channel is growing and i want to move into much more melodic territory now :wink: My skills on the keyboard however - yeah, they are not that great. I practiced a lot in the past and i can tell by ear if the keys i press fit together - or not. And over the time some melodies more or less burnt into my brain :smiley: I can start playing them right away. But most of the time i still dont get the progressions to match in a musical way. They fit, somehow, you know. But it feels like i changed the mood when doing it. Progressions … thats the holy grail of everything - so it seems to me :slight_smile: I will get it sorted out one day, for sure!

How are you doing it? Do you have a Keyboard hooked up all the time (to the A4) or do you just improvise a melody on the mini keys, jam it in, and alter it later in the sequencer? Whats your approach? Do you start with a certain sound (a Pad for example) to give you a lead for your melodies? Or the other way around? And most important: CAN you actually play the Piano?

Im keen on hearing from you :slight_smile: At the moment im in a stage there i almost cannot decide for a way i should approach the depths of this territory, so im very interested in the way you do it.



I feel ya, bro. You just gotta be aware of that and try to add in some suspenseful twists into the melody. A good melody is unexpected a takes you by surprise, so try to surprise yourself I suppose. I’m slowly approaching that, but I’m far off. If melody is important to you, then try to focus on it. Same as if bass is important to you focus on a good bass sound.

That’s my method, anyway.

As far as I see it, it’s a matter of imagination. No reason you can’t stretch that when you focus on it :slight_smile:

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I’ve played the piano for over 30 years and i’ve never been good at making music unless i have an actual keyboard in front of me… that’s why i’m so keen on getting an AK to have an elektron that i gel with musically as much as my keyboard synths.


I can vaguely play. Can’t read music but can pick out chords and melodies by ear. Just picked it up over time (20 years!). Keep going, the more often you play = the more chord shapes you’ll pick up and better instincts you’ll have in general when finding notes etc. Wish I’d learned Piano properly as a kid tho, would love to be able to play it a lot better than I can and read music with a view to teaching/scoring etc…


I can play the piano reasonably well, I guess. Well enough to play what happens to pop into my head as long as it isn’t very complex or weird. I don’t have room for a proper keyboard where my gear is, however, so I usually program the Elektrons or play the mini keys. I still “see” the piano chords and keys in my head as I work, though. So even when I don’t start by laying down a chord progression, I still think as if it is there.

Not necessarily a good thing, imo, as it is easy to miss out on some cool stuff I’d stumble across if I were just experimenting. One of many reasons why I like mangling melodic stuff on the Octatrack. I lose track of what is going on and end up with new harmonies and ideas.

If I were to learn to play today I’d probably go for a Linnstrument, Continuum or something like that instead of piano keys. More logical and more expressive. I own an Eigenharp and practice regularly. But I still have to “translate” whatever I play via imaginary piano keys in my head. Which is annoying.


Yeah I get this too. One of the cool things about using samples in general is they often slightly numb the ‘familiarity’ aspect of writing and steer you elsewhere…


I started to learn the piano very early … as a kid. This developed over the time to a capability to play melodies or patterns directly out of imagination. Just sitting down, feeling what’s inside me, close my eyes, and let my thoughts flow musically through my fingers into the keys. This works pretty good even with playback, if it’s not too complicated. It seems to be that I can hear the tune and sound in my head prior to play the keys and if I do, I have sometimes the feeling, I listen to somebody else playing … if that makes any sense.

I think the trick is, that we can develop a technical level of practice, where the technics don’t matter any more. It’s like dancing. Once the body has learned the moves, the music starts and we can immerge, feel the rhythm, the mood, and just let it flow and enjoy our dancing.

Now … a single sound, a rhythm, a pattern, or something else can be the source of inspiration and start something new or something, which reminds me and others of music, I have heard too often and love … sometimes it’s only a variation of an idea, which I have had already … well … :wink:

Often this process ends up to be creative chaos, which nobody would be patient enough to listen to for a lenght of time … but taking a recording of the performance and then reconstructing a decent track later works pretty well for me. But I guess, this is only my weird way of making music :wink:


What’s funny on that subject is :

  • Self-taught artists envy instrumentalists
  • And the instrumentalists will always say that the freshness of an autodidact is an inestimable value on the part of the freeing of the rules

And I came with that conclusion in 90% of case from discussion with instrumentalist with between 10/30 years of music experience.

So I guess if someone want to make a Duo : always pairs an instrumentalist with a Machine programmer each time. Don’t associate with a friend, witch can’t bring something on the table… because you have both the same technical experience or values… Pairs with someone who can add values to the Band/Duo, rather to duplicate the skills.

The goal is to enrich each other and in this case a lot of magic happens …


Playing is a matter of practicing.
You get as good as you practice.
Keys, knobs, creativity… need to be cultivated.

When playing with someone else, I put practicing over balancing skills.
Playing at least once a week is the key to learn to know each other and really become complementary.


IMO there is no difference between an “instrumentalist” and an “autodidact”. It’s all about practicing and beeing good on our instruments or our machines.

To be an autodidact bears only the risk, to develop bad habits, which are limiting us to reach a high level of performance skills. If we never learn, how to posture our body, arms, hands, lips, feet etc. apropriately to the instrument, or never learn, how to approach an instrument to play it ergonomically, we might not only limit your capabilities, but develop a kind of body-stress, which hurts and can in the worst case develop a chronical disease. That’s an important advantage to have a teacher, particularly at the beginning.

I think also a “machine programmer” is an instrumentalist, if trained well on his machine as others may be trained on more traditional interfaces of instruments, like keys, strings, mouthpieces etc.

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To me there’s at least capabilities to read and write… rhythm and notes… understand and apply music harmony too. an “autodidact” can put his hands in the sludge but that’s not so easy.

Composing a piece of music and Arranging too is not that easy.
That’s why autodidact (not everyone of course) is stuck and collect multiple loop project rather to finishing songs. (because it takes more efforts when you not learn to analyses song and how harmony is used in the composition process)

But I’m not saying that’s impossible for an autodidact to finishing piece of music.

Oh subbz2k @umonox i meet VØSNE yesterday, I take a coffee with him and his wife speaking about music and gear… talking about you ! he said thanks for support from you… (when you told me you take him as a reference for dub techno)

he will join Elektronauts this week … hope everyone will welcome him well, that’s a talented and experienced guys, a guy with passion :wink: like everyone here


Yeh, as with most things it goes both ways :slight_smile:

First ‘composition’ I ever made was on my dad’s old Roland sound canvas synth and a little Roland sequencer. Never played keys etc before. He showed me how the sequencer worked then I was just finding notes/chords/drums etc by ear and putting stuff down.

Ended up being a super Beatlesey descending bass thing with big piano chords and string stabs etc. Took a day to complete the song. Still sounds ok now, some interesting harmonies etc but obvs all pretty basic. I can kind of hear the innocence in it.

Now I’m always like ‘ah, but I could do this! Or maybe add a weird new section here? Or poss try something more atonal?’ etc etc. Everything takes me forever cos of all the compositional options I’ve grown to be aware of. Was much simpler/quicker just being in the moment back then, much easier to find some kind of contentment and move on…

Not ‘knowing/understanding’ stuff is often a good place to be, even if just for your own sanity :wink:


I’m a classically trained piano player and have been playing since I was a kid. I’d say that the most rewarding aspect of that in a context such as this, is the fundamental difference in how you approach music when you practice Mozart sonatas and when you feel your way to something new with a synth. To know two things unrelated or at the very least distant from each other, and combine them into a new skill, can take you to strange and exciting places.


wow, what a Response! thank you Guys … real variety here as it seems :slight_smile:

just a quick demonstration of what i mean. Here are some Chords that i just recorded with the System-1 - freestyle, no edits - right now :slight_smile:

This is Default Preset 7 btw.

Do you hear what i mean? It somehow fits, but the “flow” isnt right - in my opinion. It changes mood; several times. Only the last one seems to have a “proper” progression in my ears. I dont even know in which Key (Scale) they are :slight_smile: Also … it only works for me when i have time to look at the keyboard and to think about which notes i need to press next. If i would play this with Pluck/Key Sounds i would hit the wrong notes in no time :smiley: yeah - still long way to go …

@SoundRider: Congratulations. This would be the place i would like to get to one day.

@William_WiLD: Thanks man :smiley: Vosne comes in here?? Great !! I cant remember that i said something like that … oh wait, wasnt that in a thread where we had to post examples for good Dub Techno?? Well, yeah that could well be. I like his performances, definitely!

What you’re playing sounds fine. If you’re hearing/wanting something else in your head tho the only way to get it is fumble around a while til you hit the chord/notes…

On more complicated keys parts I still sometimes use a daw and record the midi while I play. Then I can go in and tweak some notes after in piano roll. A good way to find less common note combinations/sequences etc.


yeah, this was exactly what i did as i created my free Analog Four Patches couple of days ago. Recording the stuff in as MIDI Notes and altering them later.

But - this isnt a great process for creating music on the Hardware you know. As you usually dont have the option here :slight_smile: I will try out the Pickup Machines on the OT now; see where this leads me to. Slowly i can understand why people are so tempted to the OP1 if they have it. Seems that this machine is making this process as easy as it could possibly be.

Maybe something like this will help you out/give you some shapes you haven’t stumbled on before to mess with? I originally learned guitar mostly from charts like these…


I’d say that’s maybe the opposite in use :wink: Sequencers on OP1 are pretty clunky and the tape tracks can involve a lot of destructive/permanent decisions, so it really helps to be able to ‘play’. Definitely speeds workflow up at least… Maybe others use it differently or I’m missing something? But for me I find almost everything melodic/chords related on OP1 I play live. Which is the opposite to my experience on my AK…

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Absolutely nothing wrong here. Well played.

What you’re doing is changing key mid section, and then you move from minor to major in the end. All good, though they do break out from each other, but in a good way. Reminds me of some Howard Shore work, from Lord of the Rings. I like it.